Phew, you made it through the first six months of the year, but don’t think that things are going to slow down. As we proceed inexorably toward the new generation of consoles, expect to see even more releases in the second half of 2020 than there were in the first. For this month at least, here are three big single player game releases you might want to check out: Ghost of Tsushima, Paper Mario: The Origami King, and Destroy All Humans!.
Ghost of Tsushima
Release Date: July 17, 2020
Platform: PlayStation 4
Similar to June’s The Last of Us Part II, there is not a lot more to say about this enormous Sony exclusive, but we are giving it a try because samurai movies are just so. dang. great.
Much as the Red Dead Redemption games built a love of all things cinematic and Wild West into an open-world extravaganza, Ghost of Tsushima is founded on its venerable Japanese equivalent. Everything about its advertising thus far has been highlighting the game as the ultimate samurai fantasy: not just playing an honorable katana-wielding warrior, but of being inside a great classic of the silver screen.
The game revolves around one of the last samurai on the island of Tsushima, Jin Sakai, as he attempts to fight the Mongol invasion through becoming the titular Ghost — striking terror into the hearts of the invaders. The game’s beautiful open world is your oyster, offering a further refined take on the standard Sucker Punch Productions formula. Scattered across the map are missions and side-objectives of varying volumes, with several large centers of enemy control that must be liberated/destroyed.
Unlike other recent samurai games, Ghost of Tsushima is not focused on punishing difficulty but on the fantasy of being inside an epic movie. Battles are historically inspired but play out with the beats of drama rather than realism. The game even goes so far as to include a black-and-white mode, which, happily, means that the title will be playable regardless of color blindness.
Thanks to this welcoming accessibility and the familiar sandbox mechanics (enough for some to dub Ghost “the Assassin’s Creed: Japan we never had”), players should get a kick out of Ghost‘s artistry whether or not they have seen the works of Akira Kurosawa.
For extra indulgence, Ghost of Tsushima also boasts an original score by prolific composer Shigeru Umebayashi, whose music is probably best known in the movies of Wong Kar-wai and Zhang Yimou. Just sit back and check it out; this game is going to be gorgeous.
Paper Mario: The Origami King
Release Date: July 17, 2020
Ah, the sweet scent of a new Mario RPG as it draws near. The last 20 years have seen many Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi games, as well as a smattering of titles with RPG elements such as Mario Golf and Mario + Rabbids. Their quality varies, with the more recent Paper Mario games receiving a lukewarm reception with their unorthodox mechanics.
The marketing language around the last few Paper Mario games is what tells all. According to Nintendo, Paper Mario: The Origami King is an “action adventure.” However, the promised high points of The Origami King include typically wonderful Nintendo worlds and a brand new ring-based battle system. Between these more complex battles and the absence of card or sticker-based abilities seen in the recent games, at least some of the old Paper Mario flair has come back to the series.
In the end, those hoping for another traditional RPG experience in the vein of The Thousand-Year Door type might need to wait a while. On the other hand, players who just love Nintendo’s brand of humor and core set of characters will have another fun single player adventure to enjoy very soon with Paper Mario: The Origami King.
Destroy All Humans!
Release Date: July 28, 2020
Platform: PC, PlayStation 4, Stadia, and Xbox One
Normally, I would avoid remakes and remasters as one of the three single player games each month, but the Destroy All Humans! remake has plenty to say for itself. Zooming in from the far-off year of 2005, the original Destroy All Humans! was one of the loci of post-Grand Theft Auto III destructo-open worlds, along with games such as The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction and Just Cause.
Indeed, May’s Maneater actively hearkened back to this period, a time when open worlds were a novelty in all but a few genres. These spins on the Grand Theft Auto formula would practically be considered arcade action by today’s standards, but that same uncomplicated approach and broad physical comedy is what makes this new release of Destroy All Humans! so promising.
This remake returns to the curiously timeless tropes of American UFO mythology. Gray aliens, saucers, confused farmers, Roswell, disintegration rays, and Cold War paranoia combine in a very silly and charismatic presentation style that remains true to the original while upping the quality of animation.
I think this one could be a whole lot of fun, with the caveat that the game’s mid-2000s structure may have aged worse than the game’s retro 1950s comedy.
Notable Dates for Single Player-Friendly Games
July 1 — Carrier Trail (PC)
July 3 — Marvel’s Iron Man VR (PSVR)
July 10 — Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 (PC, PS4, NS, XONE), Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise (NS)
July 14 — Death Stranding (PC), Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town (PC, NS), Neon Abyss (PC, PS4, NS, XONE)
July 22 — The Feud: Wild West Tactics (PC)
July 23 – Roki (PC, Switch TBD)
July 28 – Othercide (PC)
July 31 — Fairy Tail (PC, PS4, NS)
As a result of release date shifts and the cancellation of E3, there are other games set to release soon that lack firm release dates. Let us know in the comments which games you are looking forward to, and stay safe until next month’s Three Single Player Games.